What is national security? 

Is it a strong military? Is it a secure border? Is it a stable economy and a solid banking system? Or maybe it is the ability to freely participate in elections under a democratically-elected system of government.

The global COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of how important it is to have a vibrant and safe domestic food supply capability. California agriculture is the envy of the world. The diversity of the crops we grow and the volume of production eclipses every other state in our country. And right now, California as well as our neighbors throughout the country are benefitting from the fact that our farmers are on the job and keeping the food supply coming. 

What we’ve learned in recent weeks is that in the case of an emergency, we should always be able to provide for ourselves. Shortages at the grocery store are an indication of what can go wrong when a system is overloaded. California farms are continuing to produce safe and healthy fruits, nuts, vegetables, proteins, and fibers. It’s the supply chain that was overwhelmed that led to the shortages we’re experiencing.

Imagine a time in the future when our basic ability to produce food is compromised. Instead of a matter of days getting supplies restocked, it could be a month or a season, or more, before shelves are filled with locally grown food that meets some of the highest safety standards in the world. We’re fortunate that we haven’t yet experienced that and we depend on bipartisan support from our elected leaders to see to it that farmers have the resources to continue to produce the nutritious food we all depend on.

It is in our country’s best interest to work together to find balanced solutions to the challenges we all face. Preparing for emergencies is a responsibility that we all share. Being prepared for future emergencies, including the ability to produce the food our country needs, is an essential role for the elected officials and policy-makers that represent the public. This is a fundamental responsibility that crosses all political lines and ideologies with the goal of providing a safe, stable food supply for the public in both good times and in bad. 

We’re fortunate that we’re not in a position yet where farms are unable to produce. And my hope is that a silver lining in the current crisis is a reminder to be prepared. Our ability to maintain a strong, dependable and safe food supply is vital to our national security and our overall wellbeing.

As they always have, California farmers are making plans now to ensure Americans have the reliable supply of healthy food we count on, not just for today, but this fall and into the future. It’s more important now than ever.